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Justice Department figures show criminal prosecution and convictions of polluters have fallen to quarter-century lows under the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency. Photo by Ting Shen/Reuters

EPA prosecutions of polluters approach quarter-century lows

WASHINGTON — Justice Department figures show criminal prosecution and convictions of polluters have fallen to quarter-century lows under the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency.

The figures Thursday from a Syracuse University records-tracking program show the Justice Department filed 75 prosecutions, and secured 60 convictions, in EPA cases in the fiscal year ended this September. They are the lowest numbers since mid-1990.

EPA spokeswoman Melissa Sullivan points to increases in other categories, including a $17 million rise in criminal fines for the year from 2018, to $45 million.

But Tim Whitehouse of the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility watchdog group says that by any metric, the odds of corporate polluters facing criminal convictions “have reached a modern low.”

Whitehouse’s group and others point to a decline in the number of EPA investigative agents.

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